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Samuel Michael Ritter
Born July 14, 2007, at 11:07 a.m.
7 pounds, 13.8 ounces, and 21 inches
The proud parents: Lisa & Steven "Mike" Ritter
I met my husband, Steven "Mike" Ritter, in August 2001, right after I started working in the office of the mechanical contracting company where Mike worked as a union plumber in the field. We instantly hit it off – his aunt had even hired me because she thought we would be a good match! – and officially started dating in March 2002. Two years later, we were engaged, and when we married in October 2005, we were ready to start a family right away. We live in Maryland.
How it all began
Unfortunately, things didn't work out exactly as planned. After about six months of trying to get pregnant with no luck, we decided to look into it a little further. We met with my ob-gyn and he scheduled multiple tests – me for fallopian tube and uterus checks, Mike for a sperm sample analysis.
My tests came back fine, but Mike's didn't. My heart sank when I found out we needed to see a specialist. I'd always wanted to be a mother, and we were being told that this might not be a possibility.
After more tests with a fertility specialist, including blood work and ultrasounds, we were referred to a urologist, where we discovered the reason we weren't getting pregnant: Mike has a condition called congenital bilateral absence of the vas deferens (CBAVD). In simpler terms, Mike has a permanent vasectomy. The condition was present from birth and cannot, we found out, be corrected through surgery.
My heart sank even more, both because Mike blamed himself for something he was born with and because this seemed to mean an end to our journey toward having a family. Fortunately, it wasn't, but our only option was in vitro fertilization (IVF) with percutaneous epididymal sperm aspiration (PESA) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). All of this was new to us: We thought we were too young to have these problems until we found out that male factor infertility accounts for up to 40 percent of all infertility issues – and it was happening to us.
Our desire to have a family was so great that we decided to proceed with the treatment in September 2006. The first step was medication to get me ready for the process of retrieving my eggs. The drugs included birth control pills, Lupron (injected through the abdomen), Gonal-F and Menopur (injected in the upper portion of the buttocks).
While taking these medications, I would make multiple trips a week to have my ovaries checked to see how many eggs were developing and the rate at which they were growing so we'd know when to trigger the release of those eggs, so they could be retrieved and fertilized with my husband's sperm. The drugs helped keep my ovaries from releasing eggs while at the same time forming multiple eggs to be retrieved for the ICSI process.
Our egg retrieval was scheduled for October 25, 2006. The doctors retrieved 29 eggs from me and enough sperm from Mike to perform ICSI on all 29 eggs and freeze embryos for additional IVF attempts.
On October 30, we transferred two eggs back to my uterus and waited. Two weeks later – the most stressful time in my entire life – we returned for a blood test. The numbers came back at 243, then 701, and a final test of 1,454, which meant one of the eggs had stuck: We were pregnant! Oh, the relief we felt! We went back for a couple more ultrasounds to make sure everything was progressing and were released to a regular obstetrician in December 2006.
From there on, I had a normal pregnancy and loved being pregnant. I had morning sickness from about week 7 or 8 until about 16 weeks. As I think back, it wasn't all that bad compared to some, but it was bad enough for me. My cravings included watermelon and jelly beans, which I ate a lot of. We both attended birthing classes and felt ready for the labor. However, a normal labor was not in store for us.
The delivery itself was not all joyful. At around 10:30 a.m. on July 14, I started hemorrhaging in the bathroom. Mike was at work, so I called my parents, who live nearby, and waited for them and the ambulance.
All I could think of was that I was losing Sammy and how was I going to tell Mike that everything we had been through was going to end this way? The ambulance came and put me on oxygen and started an IV. But what they couldn't tell me was how Sammy was – they had nothing in the ambulance to check his heartbeat.
Ten minutes later, my mom and I were at the hospital, where we found nurses and doctors waiting for me in front. I was rushed in for an emergency c-section at around 11 a.m., and out came Sammy at 11:07 a.m. He was fine. Mike arrived shortly after, since he was working over an hour away, and as soon as I came to from the anesthesia he told me he saw Sammy and he was all right.
All I could do was cry and smile at the same time. Mike and I were both so happy to have Sammy in our lives. Our lives have changed, but definitely for the better. My mom said that when I first saw Sammy I told her that I didn't think I could love someone this much so fast! Though I was groggy at the time, this was definitely true. He was the love of my life, instantly.
I wouldn't change anything, except maybe the birth. Our official diagnosis was placental abruption, in which the placenta detaches from the uterus. This occurs in only about 1 to 2 percent of women. Our first couple of weeks were very tiring as we recovered from the c-section and jumping every time Sammy moved, but the sleep deprivation is so worth it!
My advice to anybody trying to get pregnant is to start testing and inquiring as to why things aren't happening for you. Do your research and ask lots of questions and don't let anyone tell you that you can't have children or that "it will happen when it's supposed to." Be proactive in your own health and stay positive. It can be a long journey.
Samuel is the light of both of our lives, but we still have the desire to have more children and to give Samuel a brother or sister. Unfortunately, this entails another round of IVF, and the means to afford the treatment a second time. The first time, we refinanced our house to come up with the money. Though it was money well spent, this time we are appealing to our insurance company for coverage.